Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Pine Straw

We did a very southern thing today and mulched our front yard with pine straw.

I remember the first time I saw a garden mulched with pine straw (likely back in 2012 when we moved to North Carolina) and my thought was, "Wow. They really need to get rid of all those pine needles!" But then I saw it more and more—even in yards without pine trees—and realized that people were spreading pine needles in their gardens on purpose!

It's not really something I recall seeing anywhere else (besides naturally dropped pine needles, which can be plentiful in coniferous forests), but it's a very popular thing in this part of the world.

Anyway, some young men came to our door today with a trailer full of pine straw bales and offered to spread them around our yard (for a fee, of course). Andrew, who'd been the one to open the door, came to confer with me and my immediate response was no because it stresses me out* when people approach me with an offer and expect me to make up my mind right away.

But Andrew did some quick calculations and decided that since we needed to spruce up our front yard anyway (pun definitely intended, but really pine straw is of a long-leaf variety), picking up some pine straw had been on our unbelievably long list of things to do. The price these young men were asking us to pay was about equivalent to what we'd have to pay at the hardware store, but these young men were offering to weed our front area and spread the mulch for us as well. Clearly this was a bargain. So he went ahead and paid them and they sprang to work weeding and mulching was kind of nice to not have to do that.

Benjamin, of course, was out there helping haul pine straw and chatting the workers' ears off. But the other kids just played in the driveway. Andrew hung a whiteboard (watching out the window all the while) and I finished the dishes and did some laundry.

And now our front yard looks all spiffy and southern with its new pine straw mulch.

* "Quick! Name five things that don't stress me out!" I challenged Andrew when we were out for a family walk and I caught myself telling him yet another thing I was spending too much time worrying about. He rightly joked that it would be impossible to list five things that don't stress me out. I need to take a mega chill pill right now (well, probably always, but definitely right now).


  1. Andrew has several customers who want pine straw, and the guy who he buys it from has had a hard time getting it this year due to weather and labor shortages, I believe. I didn't know it was a southern thing, though! :) I'm sure those guys were happy you hired them, and I'm glad it was one less thing for you to do!

  2. This is so weird to me, because my experience with pine is that in the area under the tree where the needles fall, NOTHING GROWS. I remember asking my dad about why that was so, although I don't remember his answer which probably went over my head at the time I asked the question. So, I am guessing that whatever trees we had in Alberta were chemically different than whatever type of pine needles used to mulch in the south.

    1. Your comment made me curious, and I found this on the Lowe's website:

      "As pine needles break down, they slightly acidify the soil, making them an excellent landscaping mulch for acid-loving plants, trees and shrubs such as camellias, azaleas, hydrangeas, fuchsias, gardenias, ferns, dogwoods, magnolias, holly and evergreens."


    2. I see--and most of the plants you named on that list would not do well outside in the harsh Alberta climate. So that makes sense.

  3. I need a picture of pine straw.